M.C. Taylor is the folkie who hides behind the Hiss Golden Messenger moniker. 'Lateness of Dancers' is second record in as many years, and he follows on from the dark and fractured tones of 'Haw' with a warmer, more welcoming vibe. It continues his pattern of recording his records wherever he damn well chooses, made in a small barn in his home-state. 'Lateness of Dancers' features a wide roster of collaborators, including vocal duets with the help of Mountain Man's Alexandra Sauser-Monnig.
Tracks:Lucia Saturday's Song Mahogany Dread Day O Day (A Love So Free) Lateness of Dancers I'm a Raven (Shake Children) Black Dog Wind (Rose of Roses) Southern Grammar Chapter & Verse (Ione's Song) Drum
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I’ve had a mixed history with Hiss Golden Messenger main-man MC Taylor. I loved his early Court and Spark records, kinda lost interest a bit, got it back around the time Hiss Golden Messenger released the lovely sparse ‘Bad Debt’, lost it again when I witnessed him bore a room of people half to death supporting Michael Chapman a couple of years ago but any doubts have been swept away again by this really strong album.
As with many of the better alt-country bands (Richmond Fontaine and Songs Ohia are good examples), Hiss Golden Messenger straddle the line between affecting and cliched at times but always just staying on the right side. In the wrong hands this kind of songwriting can sound overly earnest and dull but MC Taylor gets it just right here. The songwriting is strong, the arrangements tasteful and laid back, guitars are strummed elegantly, organs are wheezed just at the right time and Taylor’s grainy timbre sits on top of the mix, narrating carefully and never overly intrusive. There are some real stand out tracks; ‘Saturday Song’ starts almost in an Eagles fashion but soon settles down into a soulful piano-led mid paced track with sparse lyrical interventions and some pretty sweet mandolin. Kinda reminds me a bit of Rod Stewarts early 70’s folky period (true). Even better is ‘Mahogany Dread’ surely a career highlight - its a lovely lilting track, autumnal and melancholic, prime West Coast- sounding country rock. Yeah you could shout Dire Straits at me during the guitar twiddling if you like but I’m going to ignore you.
The slightly gospel-ish feel to the pianos continues on ‘Day o Day’ which even the line “ I left my mandolin in the rain” can’t spoil. Beats a cake I suppose. Although the album has the confident feel of a man who knows exactly what he’s doing, there’s the odd mis-step, the bluesy ‘I’m a Raven’ doesn’t really appeal and he’s not afraid of a bit of southern boogie but I'm looking forward to this soundtracking my annual autumnal period of introspection.
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